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[Article] The salary cap trick that may save the Canucks' opening night roster plans


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The salary cap trick that may save the Canucks' opening night roster plans


When you’re hard up against the salary cap, short-term injuries can land you in a roster-building jam.

With injuries to a pair of defencemen in the last two games of pre-season, the Vancouver Canucks might have found themselves in a pickle before Monday’s opening-night roster deadline. But a wrinkle in Guillaume Brisebois’ contract means the Canucks probably won’t have to put any of his teammates on waivers ahead of the deadline.


Brisebois was injured Wednesday by a hit from the Seattle Kraken’s Brandon Tanev.


How long he’ll be out isn’t known. Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet said he didn’t know when asked about the Brisebois situation on Friday.

What we do know is Brisebois didn’t skate with his teammates Friday. He was spotted walking gingerly at Rogers Arena during the Canucks’s 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Friday evening.


He could be out for a few days and if so, that will help the Canucks.


Setting their opening-night roster was always going to be tricky because of Ilya Mikheyev’s status. The speedy Russian winger is close to a return, but he’s yet to be a full participant in a practice. It’s unlikely he’ll play in Wednesday’s season opener versus the Edmonton Oilers.


He could be put on the injured reserve list, but that would only open a roster spot, it wouldn’t create any cap relief. To create cap relief, a player must be on long-term injured reserve, but that requires a minimum stay of 24 days and 10 games.


And because of how all the Canucks’ cap hits added up, there was only going to be room under the salary cap for two other players on the roster, beyond the game-day 20-man roster.

If all players were healthy, that would have meant choosing to start the season with two spare defencemen, or just one defenceman and a forward.

But because Brisebois’ contract for this season is a two-way deal — meaning he draws a lesser salary if he’s assigned to the minors — and he played fewer than 50 NHL games the season before, he is eligible for season-opening injured reserve.

A player on SOIR has their cap hit reduced, using a formula that looks at the number of days the player was on the NHL roster the previous season.

It stands to reason that the Canucks will put Brisebois on SOIR, even just for a week, because reducing his cap hit means they can keep him around, as well as Christian Wolanin and Noah Juulsen, plus an extra healthy forward.


The Canucks could also choose to waive Juulsen and keep Cole McWard; McWard doesn’t need waivers to be sent to the minors. But McWard’s cap hit is also bigger than Juulsen’s.

Carson Soucy is injured — he looked to have injured his knee in a collision Friday night with Calgary’s Yegor Sharangovich — and if he hasn’t recovered by Wednesday  this would leave the Canucks without a spare defenceman. There are emergency recall rules which would allow the Canucks to bring in another defenceman if they needed to.


Putting Brisebois on SOIR allows the Canucks to avoid making a decision with their forwards. Nils Höglander appears to be their extra forward but once Mikheyev returns, he’ll take another forward out of the lineup.

At that point, when Brisebois recovers, they’ll either have to waive Brisebois to send him to the minors, waive Wolanin or Juulsen — or send one of their forwards down. Of the forwards, only Nils Åman is waivers exempt; Höglander and the other likely bubble forward, Jack Studnicka, both need to clear waivers to be sent back to the AHL.





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